Gov. Lewis speaks at Water Conservation Event
Gila River Indian News
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego welcomed Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis and other tribal, state and local officials at an announcement at Phoenix City Hall on Nov. 3 to celebrate new federal funding for water conservation in Arizona.
The Colorado River, a critical water source for Phoenix and the Western United States, is under threat due to drought conditions resulting from climate change, and Lake Mead is at critically low levels. New funding and agreements among water users aim to protect the water supply.
At the event, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton said $63.4 million in federal resources is being provided for water conservation, water efficiency and protection of critical environmental resources in the Colorado River System.
To date, 18 entities including tribes have entered agreements that are expected to conserve up to 162,710 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead through 2026. The agreements provide federal funding for water that the contractors do not use from their allotment of Central Arizona Project water.
Phoenix City Council in May unanimously voted to forgo up to 50,000 acre-feet of its Colorado River entitlement each year from 2023 to 2025. Gov. Lewis noted that the Community has committed more than 375,000 acre-feet of water over the next three years.
He also explained the dedication the Community has demonstrated to conserve water through the Arizona Water Settlement Agreement.
“The Community has been a supporter of this approach to addressing the drought crisis since 2016 when we entered into the first major voluntary agreement and we’ve been dedicated participants ever since,” Gov. Lewis said.
He added, “The program’s success can be best measured by the number of entities who are here with us today celebrating our joint collaboration...I couldn’t be more proud of Arizona as we confront this challenge head-on.”
San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler, also spoke on the importance of preserving water throughout his Community. He described how precious water is to the lives of the San Carlos Apache people and other tribal Communities.
The Voluntary Water Conservation Agreement in Arizona was authorized under the Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program and funded by the Inflation Reduction Act.
In April, officials announced the Community would receive up to $233 million in water conservation funding, including $83 million for a water pipeline and other projects.